PETALING JAYA: Consumer goods such as electronics and household items as well as food and other non-durable stuff will be more competitively priced under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), says an economist.
Malaysia University of Science and Technology Research and Innovation provost Prof Geoffrey Williams said it was important to note that the partnership was not a “free trade area”, but rather a common regulation area.
This means it is easier to trade, seeing that regulations are coordinated.
“There will still, however, be regulations hence it is not a free trade agreement.
“Importantly, for Malaysia, some protection of domestic interests has been maintained and it should provide greater trade,” he added.
Despite this, he said the greater competitiveness as a result of the CPTPP should help increase product choices while also reducing prices for consumers.
“Consumer durables, electronics and household goods will then be more competitively priced, alongside food and non-durables.
“This will provide greater choices and lower prices,” he said.
Prof Williams, who is also a Malaysian Institute of Economic Research senior research fellow, said the general change in prices would, however, reflect in the long term, rather than immediately.
“The CPTPP will also allow small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to trade more freely and, hopefully, this will encourage SMEs to expand into international markets where they are currently under-performing,” he said.
He added that SMEs were still under pressure in Malaysia due to years of unfavourable policies, noting that the CPTPP would help.
“More reforms are needed to ensure SMEs remain competitive,” he said.
Malaysia’s ratification of the CPTPP has not been without criticism, with Malay Economic Action Council chairman Abdul Halim Husin calling the decision to activate the country’s participation a hasty one.
“The cost and benefit analysis released by elected consultants has also not yet been fully digested by government agencies and related stakeholders.
“Engagement sessions between Miti (the International Trade and Industry Ministry) and stakeholders have also not seen the former answering relevant questions on various issues.
“These should also be answered by government agencies and government-linked companies involved in the CPTPP,” he said in a statement on Friday.
Abdul Halim added that with a new government to be formed after Nov 19, there would only be 10 days left to decide whether to proceed or pull out of the CPTPP.
“We urge the government to immediately retract the decision to ratify the CPTPP,” he said.
The Consumers’ Association of Penang, too, wanted Malaysia to withdraw from the CPTPP, adding that the agreement had far more costs than benefits.